The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) abruptly and quietly ended its COVID-19 Exposure Notification tracking systems two weeks ago.
The tracking app on the Google Play store for Android devices has been pulled and the internal notification system for iOS devices has been disabled. When attempting to enroll on iOS devices, it states “Exposure Notifications have not been turned on for your region by your public health authority.”
“DHS began to see use of the exposure notification app decline in the fall of 2022, and we ended participation on April 3, 2023. Several other states and countries ended their participation in late 2022. People who open the exposure notification app will see a message that states that it is no longer supported,” DHS said in an email, responding to Madison365’s inquiry on services ending. “It should be noted that no GPS-based location information or other personally identifiable information was collected or stored by the app, and all Wisconsin Exposure Notification data will be deleted from phones within 14 days from collection.”
Wisconsin’s COVID exposure tracking platforms have been live since October 2021. The tracking system notified a user as to when they may have been exposed to the virus.
The Exposure Notification tracking systems allowed for those who enrolled in its services to become aware of a potential exposure and get tested for COVID. It works through low battery Bluetooth communication between enrolled phones to notify possible exposures and logs it in your phone over 14 days. Individuals who have a confirmed case of COVID can log a positive diagnosis anonymously, and the app will automatically notify those who were around them about a possible exposure. The notifications are pushed through the local public health authority where they notify you if your exposure exceeds its guidelines.
Statewide COVID statistic reporting is still being updated with its last update occurring on April 14. In its last update, DHS reports that an average of 324 new cases are confirmed on a seven-day average. A month prior on the same date was over 500 between confirmed and probable cases. The Wisconsin Hospital Association reports 296 people currently hospitalized with COVID-19 infection.
DHS said they will release more information on the decision to end the tracking app soon.